I’d like to think that I am not a snob. I’d like to believe that I make those around me sincerely feel welcomed. I’d like to imagine that I am secure enough in myself to become socially vulnerable and break out of the common comfort zone. I’d like to surmise that I could do a Jesus and hang out with the less than desirables and not solely as a “mission.” Often we Christians think we did a ‘pat on the back worthy deed’ for being nice to a homeless person or going dumpster diving in some third world country. But what would we do with these individuals in our every day lives – NOT viewing them as a mission? How would we act if they approached our social safe haven? Ok, so maybe a lice infested homeless person, who is in need of a good scrub down, entering our social clique is a bit of a stretch but what about a new person? An “outsider?” Far too often we devote ourselves to reaching the grotesquely lost but what about those within our life grid? For instance, what about the unconnected youth in our churches who desire connection? What about the parents who ask for help getting their child to form Godly friendships? What about the families who live under our noses? These individuals and requests seem to go unnoticed or fall on deaf ears within the church today. I routinely challenge myself and my children with these questions. The challenge has become even more urgent with the recent media coverage of bullying and the rash of suicides following.
I have discovered that Christians, more often than not, are the some of the worst offenders of establishing and maintaining cliques or zones of comfort. You see it time and time again with those in the ministry. The ministry team (pastor, youth pastors, worship leaders etc) is, by the demand of their schedule and time spent together, a tight unit. The time invested together with their families and children results in the formation of a tight bond which, on one level, is awesome. However to an “outsider” it presents many challenges. A youth member whose parents are not a part of the ministry team but rather a part of the congregation may experience great difficulty approaching the children of those in the ministry because he/she is unable to enter in on the inside jokes and all of the experiences forged during the mammoth amount of time these kids spend together. Thus, the formation of a clique occurs (and depending on how many children the ministry team has collectively – it can be a rather large clique)…a clique that is often difficult to break. What do we do? I heard one minister say that he explains to his children and the children of his staff that since they spend xyz hours together, he expects them to seek out someone they do not know and get to know them during Church functions. They must spend each church function with someone new and widen the circumference of their social group. Bravo! It comes from the top…from what is tolerated. And as a result his church has had very little difficulties with cliques among the youth. All are made to feel welcomed and there are virtually no lines of demarcation (Virtually as in minus the individual styles of punk, posh, Abercrombie, pierced, tattooed etc!)
Adults can be subjected to the social stone wall as well. I was appalled as I witnessed the height of snobbery at a Christian conference a few months back. I watched in stomach sickening horror as my mom was given the ultimate shove off from individuals who profess to being lovers of Christ and engage in radical, people saving missions outside of the USA. And I had to ask myself more questions….who do we think we are? I mean, really. How can you love on the lost yet treat a fellow believer with such coldness and illusions of self-grandeur? Is it because hugging a dirtball is met with praises from other believers? Yes, It does take a special person to hug a dirtball but dirtball hugging becomes meaningless if you hate on your own. Have I ever behaved in such a manner? Unfortunately, I have because I am human and fallible. As I shoved food in my mouth and began to evaluate my own behavior (because I most definitely would have sinned in anger if I continued to focus on their disgustingly snobbish treatment of my mom) I realized that I was more likely to engage in social snobbery during the times when I felt inadequate, tired or insecure. It was during these times that I opted for the comfort of those who I knew loved me and times when I did not feel like, for whatever reasons, engaging new comers. I get it, I do but it’s not right. We are called to a higher standard and it is this higher standard that we must challenge ourselves and our kids to ascend to.
So, yes I’d like to think that I am not a snob…that I make those around me sincerely feel welcomed….that I am secure enough in myself to become socially vulnerable and break out of the common comfort zone. I may fall short but I am absolutely, 100%, for sure taking Romans 12:3 to heart “For I say by the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think…”